The How and Why of Programmable Thermostats in Houston, TX

The brain of your home’s HVAC system is your thermostat. However, many Houston, TX area homes are still using outdated technology with manual thermostats. Consider how a programmable thermostat works and the benefits it offers.

Manual Thermostats

Let’s first look at the difference between manual and programmable thermostats. You’ll recognize a manual thermostat because it will either have a dial or lever that adjusts the temperature. There’s no digital readout to indicate the exact temperature you’ve set or to indicate the temperature in your home.

Manual thermostats rely on a small tube of mercury attached to a metal coil to sense the temperature. An improperly calibrated tube and coil will cause your system to be off. Further, that coil loses its elasticity over time, making it less accurate.

Programmable Thermostats and the Microcontroller

On the other hand, digital thermostats rely on an electronic sensor to control the temperature, known as the microcontroller. Rather than trying to measure temperature directly, as the mercury switch does, it measures electrical resistance.

For these sensors, as temperature increases, so does resistance. The thermostat translates that electrical resistance into a temperature, which it then displays. When you set your temperature, what you’re actually setting is a specific resistance.

These sensors do eventually wear out, with an average lifespan of between 10 and 15 years. Fortunately, they aren’t expensive to replace and are normally handled with a new heating or air conditioner installation.

How the Programs Work

Programmable thermostats come with several configurations, depending on your needs and budget. The basic program allows you to pre-set twice throughout the day when the temperature will change. This program will run every day until you tell it otherwise.

Not everyone requires the same program to run every day of the week. This is where you may want a more robust option. The next step-up allows you to set a program for weekdays and a different one for weekends.

Then you have models that allow you to set one program for weekdays, and different programs for each weekend day. Finally, there are thermostats where you can set a unique program for each day of the week. Whatever your particular situation, there are benefits to using programs to manage your home’s temperature.

Lower Energy Bills

One of the biggest benefits of digital programmable thermostats is the reduction in utility costs. The Department of Energy suggests you can save about 10% off your annual heating and cooling expenses by using programs. To achieve this level of savings, adjust your thermostat by at least 7 degrees for about eight hours each day.

Reduced System Strain

When a manual thermostat ages, it becomes less responsive to temperature change. This allows for a greater temperature variation between cycles. It also prevents the system from shutting off when it should, creating longer heating and cooling cycles.

These longer cycles add strain to the system. This increases your utility expenses plus leads to additional repairs and a shorter service life.

Better Comfort

Programmable thermostats often have a smaller temperature swing than manual models. The temperature swing is how far from the set temperature the air must be to start or stop a cycle.

Additionally, because the temperatures adjust automatically, it doesn’t have to wait for you to get home to make the adjustment. This allows you to enjoy the proper temperature from the moment you walk in the door.

Less Hassle

Adjusting the temperature with a manual thermostat is a hassle. First, you have to remember to make the adjustments in the first place. Then, it’s nearly impossible to get it set back to the exact temperature you enjoy.

A programmable thermostat allows you to set it up and forget it. You don’t have to remember to change the setting, and it’ll always go to the exact temperature you set.

Keep your home’s HVAC system working optimally by using the best thermostats and getting routine HVAC maintenance. Call to schedule an appointment with one of the expert technicians at Davis Air Conditioning & Heating today.

Image provided by iStock

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